Cavendish concedes Olympic dream may be over, questions UCI’s separation of road and track

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Taking an Olympic gold medal has long been an ambition for Mark Cavendish but the Briton has now admitted that his chances of riding the Rio Games are very slim.

“It probably won’t happen,” he told the BBC. “It’s not 100% I’m not doing the Olympics, but it’s difficult. If I’m honest. I’ve got a road job.”

Cavendish said that riding the road events is unlikely to result in the success he wants. “The road race doesn’t suit me,” he said, referring to what is a lumpy parcours. “The time trial, well, I’m not a time triallist.”

That means ambitions of a win depend on track events, but he feels that it is very difficult to secure qualification there.

Cavendish is part of the Etixx-QuickStep team, a squad which in the past has been lukewarm about him doing track races during the winter.

The need to do a certain number of events to secure a place in the Olympics make things very complicated, something he faults the UCI for.

“The UCI has segregated track and road cycling completely,” he said. “So you have to do what Bradley Wiggins is doing and quit road cycling to be able to qualify for it. It’s killing track cycling, because you never get the road stars doing track anymore. Track cycling is going to die, particularly on the endurance side.”

He said that as a British rider he really wanted to ride the Games, but that things were very difficult. “I can’t do it on the road, can’t do it in the time trial and on the track there’s just no way to qualify without quitting the road.”

Now 29 years of age and possibly facing retirement before the 2020 Games, it seems that the chances of Cavendish taking an Olympic medal during his career are very slim indeed. He tried in 2008 but the Madison pairing with Bradley Wiggins was not a successful one due to the latter’s fatigue.

He tried again four years later but the Great Britain team lost control of the road race it had tried to set up for him. A break went on to dispute the medals, while he finished 29th.

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